Forest Hill, Queensland

February, 2015
Population - 394

It was such a beautiful Autumny day (although it was Summer) - warm sun, cool breeze - my sister decided against doing her bookwork for the day and go for a drive.
So she bundled up our Mum and I and we took to the road.
We weren't really sure where we were headed - just a general direction.

We'd heard of a nice little shop in Forest Hill so we wound our way through the Lockyer Valley - a vegie bowl for Australia.
Acres and acres of fertile fields under irrigation - Okra, cucumbers, corn, pumpkins seemed to be ready for picking
(I wonder where all that Okra was going coz I'm pretty sure Australia isn't eating it!).
And then all of a sudden there was Forest Hill.
It's a tiny town but it was buzzing - 2 pubs, 2 cafes, a post office, a general store and a hairdresser.
Surprisingly a child day-care centre. Also a skate park, cricket ground, an State Emergency Depot, a fire station.
But no swimming pool!!

The War Memorial was in a well-tended little spot next to a park.
More than any other memorial I have seen I was taken by how many men from the same families served during the war.
5 McKees, 4 Brimblecombs, 3 Swans, 3 Reids, 3 Hansens, 4 Logans in WWI and 4 Logans again in WWII - 3 killed.
Incredibly 97 men from this region served in WWI.
In the early 1900s the district had a population of 600.
I find it unimaginable to think how families could bear all their sons away at war and how the community at large
coped with 1/6 of its population gone.
Not just the lack of young, strong men to work the farms and businesses in the region, but the impact on the collective psyche
of their best and brightest away in foreign lands undergoing god know what horrors.
But that's war, right?
It sucks.

photos - phone, February, 2015

Port Macdonnell, South Australia

August, 2009
Population - 623

I know I shouldn't be....but I'm constantly surprised by these far flung places - seemingly on the edge of civilization,
that have such beautiful, well-kept monuments to their service people.
Stupid, I know.
Why should their sacrifice be any less and therefore less remembered or memorialized than anyone else's?

Port McDonnell is right down the bottom of Australia, totally exposed to the wild Southern Ocean.
It's a tiny little spit of a town.
I first stumbled across Port McDonnell back in 2008 when I was looking for some dog-friendly accommodation near Mount Gambier
for the trip to collect Clarrie, my Morris Minor.
I fell in love with this little port immediately.
We had the opportunity to return for a few days holiday with my Mum in 2009.
She flew from Brisbane to Melbourne and then on to the little airport at Mt Gambier - we stayed in a little cottage facing the wild,
magnificent Southern Ocean and spent a wonderful 3 or 4 days exploring the area.

The memorial sits right on the beach esplanade enclosed in a little brick and chain fence with a turnstile (which I thought was an interesting addition).
It stands in front of a beautiful old building, recently restored which was formerly the Customs Building (it's now a B&B).
Nearby sits an unexploded German containing Hexonite, washed ashore during WWII in 1943.
It's a shame, but as you look back out over the ocean there is a dirty great fuel container slightly to the right of the memorial - who decides these things?!

....and some little personal memories....
As we sat having Sunday breakfast in the Periwinkles Cafe (is that not the best name for a beach-side cafe?) overlooking the ocean on a winter's morning - the fella who came by having a long heated discussion with himself and carrying his two dogs in a milk crate on the back of his bicycle.
The miles and miles of the most varied seaweeds I have every seen - fine, feathery pink ones, thick black leathery ones,
shiny green pearl necklaces and some really stinky ones.
As we walked along the pier, the dolphin that nosed around the shallows - very shallow in some parts, like 2-3 feet of water!, so very, very close to us. It was an utter delight.
And the BIGGEST Blue Bottle I've ever seen! About 3 times the size of the ones I normally see on the beaches of QLD.
I can't even imagine how long his stinger was!


Cecil Plains, Queensland

Autumn - April, 2014
Population: 678

Too long cooped up in the city - I needed to get out and feel the wide open spaces and big skies.
A day trip 1 hour up the road (north-west) to Cecil Plains on the banks of the Condamine River.
A little town in the centre of a large agricultural area - cotton, sorghum and corn growing at the moment.
All the crops look bountiful and healthy thanks to recent heavy rains - in fact, pools of water were everywhere
and the resultant mosquitoes nearly carried me away.
Cecil Plains has everything you could need - a bush nurse, a library, a skate park, a post office, a swimming pool, a pub,
a primary school, a shop, a petrol pump, a recreation oval and a cemetery - oh... and a saw mill and a cotton gin.
We had lunch at the local pub (shepherd's pie) and the landlady told us Anzac Day (which is coming up in the next couple of weeks)
is huge in Cecil Plains - dawn service and breakfast at the pub.
The memorial is very simple and appropriately in the shadow of the town's grain silos
- a simple stone, a flag-pole and a small avenue of trees planted 20 years ago
(they are tiny for 20 year old trees, aren't they? Well, I suppose they lived in drought for many of those years).
It has a very different feel about it than other memorials I have visited.
Less formal, more familiar, more friendly(?).
I also found another memorial stone in the local cemetery
it was stuck in the middle all by itself - it looked very lonely.

photos: iphone - 7th April, 2014
Cecil Plains, Queensland

Dalby, Queensland

Winter - June, 2013
Population: 17,000

The first week-end of Winter 2013.
None of the male type family members wanted to come bushwalking with us at Lake Broadwater Conservation Park,
so my sister, my niece and I took ourselves off exploring.
We stopped at Dalby on the way through for a look around at the lovely old buildings and parks.
We stumbled across the War Memorial sandwiched between the Bowls Club, the Croquet Club and in front of the Swimming Club.

photos: iphone
Dalby, Queensland - Sunday, 2 June, 2013

Lake Bolac, Victoria

Spring - November, 2009
Population: 470

Driving through Lake Bolac on the way to Port Fairy with Dad and Vince.
Very hot spring - it was the year before the drought broke.
The lake still had some water in it but by the end of the summer it was completely dry.

An old bouquet propped up against the memorial.
A timber truck passing through.
An old blue-stone pub.
Colours of blue and orange.

Photos: Lake Bolac, Victoria - 24th November, 2009